July 18, 1917
Shortly after the United States entered World War I, the War Department established Camp McClellan as a rapid mobilization base and permanent National Guard facility. More than 27,000 men were training at the east Alabama base by the end of 1917. Camp McClellan was originally named in honor of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, and was renamed Fort McClellan in 1929. During World War II, nearly 500,000 military personnel trained there. After being put in custodial status following the war, it was reactivated during the Korean War and Cold War era. The focus shifted to chemical weapons training during and after the Vietnam War. The fort survived one round of military base closings during the 1990s, but it was finally shut down in 1999. The site has shifted to private use as well as for Alabama National Guard training.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Pioneering aviator Ruth Law (1887-1970) performed aerial stunts for the troops at Camp McClellan on Oct. 27, 1917. Law lobbied U.S. military leadership unsuccessfully for women to be allowed to serve as pilots in World War I. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, National Archives and Records Administration)
Troops move ordnance in this detail from an aerial panorama of the encampment of the 29th Infantry Division of the National Guard at Camp McClellan in 1918. Tents that housed the majority of the soldiers are visible in the background. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Richards Film Services/Library of Congress)
Fort McClellan, located in Anniston, was the home of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) School as well as a museum honoring the Corps. Here, members of the dance band unit of the 14th Army Band (WAC) perform at an event at the WAC Center at the fort in 1965. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Jacksonville State University)
Lt. B Holmes, an officer of the 92nd Infantry Division demonstrates the use of a bayonet at Fort McClellan in Calhoun County in this photo from November 1942. The 92nd was a segregated division composed entirely of African American men and was only the second such unit in the U.S. Army at the time. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, National Archives and Records Administration)
Camp McClellan, 1918. (Library of Congress, FortWiki)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.